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What It Means to Be LGBTQ in Utah (And Why We'll Be OK)

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It's not easy to be different, nor is it easy to be patient, or disregarded, treated unfairly, misunderstood, left to fend for ourselves, even feared and hated. But that is or has been the experience of many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people here in Utah.

At times the injustice of it all is hard to stand. On Monday, for example, marriage equality was put on hold, and then on Wednesday the State of Utah announced that it would not recognize the more than 1,000 same-sex marriages already performed (including mine). That is hard to stand. And since the Dec. 20 decision by Judge Robert James Shelby that struck down Utah's constitutional ban on gay marriage, several gay and lesbian people have been fired from their jobs when word of their recent marriages made it to their places of employment, outing them to their bosses. That is very hard to stand. And, tonight, like every night, hundreds of homeless LGBTQ youth in Utah will sleep on the streets in the snow because they've been kicked out of their homes. That is nearly unbearable.

Enduring these hardships isn't easy. And to be sure, there are times when they leave
us weaker, cutting off access to basic necessities and fundamental protections. But this is not the first time we've been given bad news, felt the incredible weight of inequality, or doubted our ability to protect ourselves and our families, nor will it be the last. The fact that this happens with some regularity doesn't necessarily make it easier, but easiness doesn't teach resilience and determination. Easiness doesn't build character and moral strength. Easiness doesn't galvanize communities.

What does are weeks like this one, weeks when we're dealt a blow and choose to respond with compassion for one another and a renewed commitment to fighting for justice and fairness. We were not made weaker by Gov. Herbert and Attorney General Reyes; on the contrary, we were made stronger.

Because to be LGBTQ in Utah is to be tough, respectful, resilient and loving. We are not victims; no, we are heroes.

Earlier today, LGBTQ people and allies in Utah rallied at the state capitol to make our voices heard. Those who could not join are encouraged to both call the governor and contribute to the local organizations fighting for equality and justice.